From the Oak: Let’s hear it for the God!

Many are those that focus on female divinities, leaving male divinities in the shadows if they get mentioned at all. This is a shame. Here I will share my thoughts, stories and prayers on male divinities.

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Janus, Divine Doorkeeper

b2ap3_thumbnail_janus-clipart.jpg

Next up in my tributes to the Gods placed in the atheist graveyard, I honor Janus, Divine Doorkeeper.  Yet I've already written about him once as Janus, God of Libraries, so below I leave you with an interesting excerpt of Ovid's Fasti (Book 1):  

 

"But two-formed Janus what god shall I say you are,

Since Greece has no divinity to compare with you?

Tell me the reason, too, why you alone of all the gods

Look both at what’s behind you and what’s in front.

While I was musing, writing-tablets in hand,

The house seemed brighter than it was before.

Then suddenly, sacred and marvellous, Janus,

In two-headed form, showed his twin faces to my eyes.

Terrified, I felt my hair grow stiff with fear

And my heart was frozen with sudden cold.

Holding his stick in his right hand, his key in the left,

He spoke these words to me from his forward looking face:

‘Learn, without fear, what you seek, poet who labours

Over the days, and remember my speech.

The ancients called me Chaos (since I am of the first world):

Note the long ages past of which I shall tell.

The clear air, and the three other elements,

Fire, water, earth, were heaped together as one.

When, through the discord of its components,

The mass dissolved, and scattered to new regions,

Flame found the heights: air took a lower place,

While earth and sea sank to the furthest depth.

Then I, who was a shapeless mass, a ball,

Took on the appearance, and noble limbs of a god.

Even now, a small sign of my once confused state,

My front and back appear just the same.

Listen to the other reason for the shape you query,

So you know of it, and know of my duties too.

Whatever you see: sky, sea, clouds, earth,

All things are begun and ended by my hand.

Care of the vast world is in my hands alone,

And mine the governance of the turning pole.

When I choose to send Peace, from tranquil houses,

Freely she walks the roads, and ceaselessly:

The whole world would drown in bloodstained slaughter,

If rigid barriers failed to hold war in check.

I sit at Heaven’s Gate with the gentle Hours,

Jupiter himself comes and goes at my discretion.

So I’m called Janus. Yet you’d smile at the names

The priest gives me, offering cake and meal sprinkled

With salt: on his sacrificial lips I’m Patulcius,

And then again I’m called Clusius.

So with a change of name unsophisticated antiquity

Chose to signify my changing functions.

I’ve explained my meaning. Now learn the reason for my shape:

Though already you partially understand it.

Every doorway has two sides, this way and that,

One facing the crowds, and the other the Lares:

And like your doorkeeper seated at the threshold,

Who watches who goes and out and who goes in,

So I the doorkeeper of the heavenly court,

Look towards both east and west at once.

You see Hecate’s faces turned in three directions,

To guard the crossroads branching several ways:

And I, lest I lose time twisting my neck around,

Am free to look both ways without moving."

 

Janus proceeds to answer several more of Ovid's questions including why he should receive offerings first and what type of offerings to give.  Given his responses (or Ovid's reasoning if you prefer), he'd make a great gatekeeper in ADF-style rites. For the curious, go to Ovid's Fasti Book 1.

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I am a Hellenic Pagan, dedicated to Zeus, living in the Colorado mountains with my husband, our son, two cats and a yellow lab.  In the little bit of free time that I have, I enjoy reading and crafting.

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